“AIDS dementia” is real: the decline in mental function is sometimes the first sign that a patient has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS dementia is one of the few conditions caused directly by the virus. But how does it affect the brain?
A team at the Temple University School of Medicine, led by Bassel E. Sawaya, associate professor of neurology, has discovered a mechanism: it’s a viral protein (vPr) produced by HIV, that can activate an “oxidative stress pathway” in the brain, which can lead to cell death.
This research improves understanding of how HIV works in the brain, and promises to improve treatment of AIDS dementia. It was conducted in the Temple University Center for Neurovirology in collaboration with researchers from Temple’s Departments of Neuroscience and Biology. It was funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Deshmane, S., Mukerjee, R., Fan, S., Del Valle, L., Michiels, C., Sweet, T., Rom, I., Khalili, K., Rappaport, J., Amini, S., & Sawaya, B. (2008). Activation of the Oxidative Stress Pathway by HIV-1 Vpr Leads to Induction of Hypoxia-inducible Factor 1 Expression Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284 (17), 11364-11373 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M809266200